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04 January 2011

Top 10 Religion and Politics Research Findings from 2010 that will Shape Our Future

Tea Party's religious side, pluralism and Islam, American exceptionalism among top findings

By Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, originally posted on Dr. Jones's blog at Huffington Post Religion.

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) team put our heads together and posted our take on the top religion and politics research findings from the past year. These issues, prominent in 2010, are sure to be with us in the new year and into the 2012 campaigns.

1. Nearly half (47%) of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement also identify with the Christian right.

2. Pew found that nearly 1-in-5 (18%) Americans wrongly believe President Obama is a Muslim, and PRRI found a majority (51%) say his religious beliefs are different from their own.

3. 57% of Americans are opposed to allowing NY Muslims to build an Islamic center and mosque two blocks from ground zero, but 76% say they would support Muslims building a mosque in their local community if they followed the same regulations as other religious groups.

4. Americans are about 5 times more likely to give an "F" (24%) than an "A" (5%) to churches for their handling of homosexuality. Two-thirds see connections between messages coming from America's churches and higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.

5. 45% of Americans say the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life, while a plurality (49%) disagree.

6. If another vote similar to Proposition 8 were held now, a majority (51%) of Californians say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

7. At least 7-in-10 Americans say that protecting the dignity of every person (82%), keeping families together (80%), and the Golden Rule are important values that should guide immigration reform.

8. In his new book American Grace, Robert Putnam found that between one-third and one-half of all American marriages are in interfaith marriages, and roughly one-third of Americans have switched religions at some point in their lives.

9. Despite high levels of religiosity, Pew found on average that Americans only answered about half of 32 questions correctly on their Religious Knowledge Survey.

10. The 2010 congressional election revealed relatively stable voting patterns by religion compared to past elections. GOP candidates held an advantage among white Christians, while Democratic candidates held an advantage among minority Christians and the unaffiliated.

And an 11th for 2011. Nearly 6-in-10 Americans affirm American exceptionalism, that God has granted America a special role in human history. Those affirming this view are more likely to support military interventions and to say torture is sometimes justified.

See the full post and comments on Dr. Jones's blog at Huffington Post Religion.

PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones is available for comment on these and other top stories that promise to shape the role of religion in public life going forward.

Public Religion Research Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan research and education organization specializing in work at the intersection of religion, values and public life.


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